UK government does not monitor risks associated with existing systems • The Register
The UK government currently does not have a central and dynamic list of its legacy IT stock and the risks associated with aging IT infrastructure and applications, Joanna Davinson, executive director of the Central Digital and Data Office, told MPs ( CDDO).
But she said the Cabinet Office, which includes the CDDO, is working on such a system, aimed at helping prioritize spending, which her team hopes to pilot this year and launch in January.
“I admit it’s not as systematic as it should be at the moment, but we have an initiative in place,” Davinson told Parliament’s public expenditure watchdog, the Accounts Committee. public.
The need to understand the risks of maintaining existing IT systems was highlighted last week when the National Audit Office revealed that a 1980s ICL mainframe was one of the systems involved in underpayment. state pensions of around £ 1 billion.
Davinson, whose office was established last year as a new strategic center for government activity in “digital, data and technology”, said: “We have information at the center of existing systems… What we don’t yet have as clearly as I would like is an ongoing process to really assess and understand what our whole-of-government legacy risk looks like, and where it’s going, and where do we step in. “
During his tenure as Home Office digital, data and technology manager, Davinson oversaw the difficult implementation of the emergency services network, with delays reportedly costing £ 550million for the maintenance of existing systems.
She told MPs last week that her office was working with ministries to create a “legacy risk assessment framework” to provide “a clearer picture government-wide, be more transparent and also help us in cases. conversations with donors, such as the Treasury “.
The CDDO is currently piloting a tool with three departments with the hope of launching it government-wide by early 2022.
The move comes as the government hires outside help in part to justify spending on legacy systems and the transition to more modern technologies. McKinsey was awarded an eight-week £ 3million contract to develop business cases ahead of the ’21 spend review.
The role, which could see the international management consultancy influencing the government’s technology spending priorities, has been described as one that “would design the interdepartmental approach to tackle core digital, data and technology priorities. (DDaT), develop business cases and intergovernmental work. plans.”
Meanwhile, Dan Bailey, director of IBM UK and Ireland, has been seconded to the Cabinet Office for a six-month contract as acting chief technology officer. The register confirmed he was hired last month by Joanna Davinson, a 29-year veteran of Big Blue, who herself was hired as CDDO’s executive director at the Cabinet Office in February.
A report by the Modernization and Reform group released in July found that £ 2.3bn of the £ 4.7bn spent by the UK government on technology in 2019 was spent on the ‘keep the lights on’ activity on “obsolete legacy systems”. Furthermore, the report predicted that £ 13-22 billion could be wasted in the same way over the next five years.
Technical debt “brings a number of challenges, including very high ‘keep the lights on’ maintenance costs, data and cybersecurity risks, and an inability to develop new features on technologies or systems that don’t. are more widely supported.
“The challenge is by no means limited to government departments, as there is a universal temptation to invest in the development of new features over the ‘dignified but boring’ task of ensuring the security and stability of platforms. underlying. But the situation is particularly acute in several government departments. “
The report pointed to the example of the Home Office – the department with the highest tech spending – saying it has a clear understanding of the risks associated with legacy computing after four years of effort, but “n ‘was not able to remove any of its twelve major legacy operating systems. ®